There has been a barrage of media efforts to explain and analyze the Fake News Phenomenon. One such article was “How to report fake news to social media” (see: http://www.bbc.com/news/38053324 ) which is also the photo source. Another is “The Cynical Gambit to Make ‘Fake News’ Meaningless (see: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/12/the-fight-to-make-fake-news-meaningless/509888/).
Social Media such as FaceBook is considered the major home for fake news. Perhaps the most recent notorious example of fake news was the stories claiming that a pizzeria was a child slavery hideout (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/technology/fact-check-this-pizzeria-is-not-a-child-trafficking-site.html?_r=0).
What does this all mean?
Well, first of all, anyone that takes on the Internet at face value is probably in for a rude awakening sooner or later. The ubiquitous availability of social media makes anyone into a journalist. While some ersatz reporters are earnest in their efforts, others are not so scrupulous nor do they consider the unintended impact of their work.
PSYOP has been classified as white, gray and black depending on its source. (You can see Appendix A in FM-3-05.30, 15 April 2005: https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-05-30.pdf; which is an older, Army Field Manual, but necessarily the latest one). While it may not be the latest manual the definitions are still relevant.
· A-2 White products are over products. DOD forces use overt products in support of their operations.
· A-6 Products that conceal and/or do not identify a source are known as gray products. Gray products are best used to support operational plans.
· A-9 Products that purport to emanate from a source other than the true one are known as black products. Black products are best used to support strategic plans.
One can argue that these definitions don’t apply to Fake News or that it is impossible to neatly classify social media postings in 2016. As the definitions imply, each of the classes have their advantages and uses.
Fake news on the other hand, cannot be used to inform, because it’s fake! Fake news can be employed in MISO to influence or to cast doubts on the credibility of other news and/or other sources.
In any event, today’s PSYOP/MISO practitioner needs to add an understand and appreciation of fake news to their skill set.
Let me take this opportunity to wish my readers the Best for the Holidays.
I have good intentions of trying to take two weeks off from Blogging. So, don’t be disappointed if you don’t see any new postings until the New Year. Of course, with the approaching inauguration of the Tweeter-n-Chief, this could change.